The Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide: 3 Must-Know Factors!

Vacuum cleaners, one of the best man-made utilities, enable one to give his house a flawless clean in minimum time and effort. When choosing a vacuum cleaner one shouldn’t just consider its style or power, but one should also pay attention to many other factors.

The wrong choice of vacuum cleaner can lead to wastage of money. Cleaning your home with the wrong cleaner will require a much greater endeavor and time on your part. There are various types of vacuum cleaners available in the market, each of which is best for different functions.

Therefore, when choosing home vacuum cleaners you must analyze the requirement at home, and get the right vacuum cleaner. If it is not chosen wisely, cleaning your home using it will consume a lot of effort and time, and still, you wouldn’t manage to give your home an impeccable clean.

vacuum cleaner buying guide

There are many factors to consider if you want to get a reliable vacuum. We have divided the criteria into three major factors as you can see in the following section.

Before we really move towards those factors, it’s good to see the crucial and also deciding factor for many people when getting a new cleaner, that’s the vacuum price!

No doubt that the vacuum price is the deciding factor for many people whether to get a particular model or not. So, you should set a budget as some models like robotic vac can easily cost you several hundred bucks.

Read our full review, and find more of our top picks for buyers on different budgets:

Major Factor 1: The Vacuum Types

There are many types of vacuum in the market. For each of the vacuum types below, you will know the overview and we also recommend the best vacuum model (taking the affordable price model as the main consideration).

1. Upright Vacuum

Upright vacuum cleaners are by far the most popular of the different types. While they may not be the best machine for every use (cleaning out your car for instance), with a good extension hose and the right tools, they can be the most versatile. Before major manufacturers started including these handy tools, vacuuming places like stairs was a nightmare, but now it’s much easier.

Many people own uprights and love them, as they can work great on every floor type from hardwoods to deep pile carpets. However, beware of the weight of the model you choose. While it may not seem important, a heavy upright vacuum can really tax your shoulders and back if you have a large house.

Self-propelled models help with this but don’t solve the problem entirely. Luckily, many newer models come in a lightweight version, virtually eliminating that problem.

The recommended upright vacuum cleaner:

Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, 2252

Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, 2252

• Powerful with Triple Action Brush Roll + Scatter-free Technology
• Multi-surface cleaning and swivel steering for easy maneuverability
• Specialized pet tools for effective pet hair removal
• Dirt cup capacity 1.0 litre with easy quick empty the bin, mess-free
• Cord length: 27-ft; weight 15 lbs

Also read: The complete buying guide for an upright vacuum.

2. Canister Vacuum

Canister vacs are a great alternative to their upright sisters. Instead of pushing around the entire machine, the motorized portion and dust collection is done on a separate unit that rolls around on wheels, and you just push and pull the vacuum extension pole and hose.

This is a great alternative if you have any sort of back issues. However, many of these models tend to tip over on carpeted surfaces, so you may find you need to bend over more often to set it upright again.

This canister vacuum contains the variable power setting. You can customize it depending on the type of surface you are using. If you want to clean the fragile surface like rugs, you need to reduce the power of your vacuum cleaner because it has more powerful suction that can damage the surface of rugs. But if we are using the hard floor more power will be needed for it.

The recommended canister vacuum cleaner:

Eureka NEN110A Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum

Eureka WhirlWind Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner

• Multi-surface cleaner with 3 settings for cleaning carpet, upholstery and hard floors
• Lightweight and easy to maneuver
• Cyclone filtration system with a 2-In-1 integrated crevice tool
• Bagless design with 2.5L dust container; washable filter
• Cord length: 16-ft (auto-rewind); weight 8 lbs

Check out our comprehensive canister vacuum buyer’s guide.

 

3. Robotic Vacuum

Robotic vacuums are by far the most convenient and hands-off of all the options. They rely on technology with a “set it and forget it” philosophy. The hardest part of using a robotic model is the initial setup, as you have to let the unit know where it should clean and when.

After that, you need to keep the dirt collection bin free and change the filters. Other than that, they are mostly maintenance-free. However, since they do rely heavily on technology when something goes wrong, it can be a real pain to repair (as anyone who has ever had problems with their computer can tell you).

The recommended robot vacuum cleaner:

iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

• 3 Stage Cleaning system (Loosens, lifts, and suctions)
• Multi-Surface brushes for hard floors and carpets cleaning
• Advanced Sensors let the vacuum clean everywhere including stairs
• Personalized schedules and start cleaning with the sound of your voice
• Auto-recharge after runs for about 90 minutes

Also read: The complete robot vacuum buying guide.

 

4. Stick Vacuum / Broom

Stick vacs are a great option for quick cleanups, mostly on bare floors like hardwood, vinyl, tile, granite, or marble. Since they are extremely lightweight, they tend to not be able to dig down into carpet to really get out the mess, so they’re not great for that use.

However, if you have a home with bare floors, a good stick vacuum might be the best option for you. They come in a variety of models including battery-operated cordless types, which are very convenient.

The recommended stick vacuum cleaner:

Bissell Featherweight Bagless Stick Vacuum 2033M

Bissell Featherweight Bagless Stick Vacuum with Crevice Tool, 2033M

• 3-in-1 vacuum: Convertable stick + hand + stair vacuum
• Powerful, compact, convenient, and affordable
• Multi-surface cleaner: hard floors, carpets/area rugs, and stairs
• Bagless: easy to empty the dust cup (capacity: 0.67 litre)
• Cord length: 15-ft; weight: 3 lbs

5. Handheld Vacuum

Having a good handheld model has practically become essential for any household. Not only are they very handy for quick pickups, but they’re also great for cleaning up upholstery (think dog and cat hair) and cleaning hard-to-reach places like those on your car or boat seats and floors. Many are also rechargeable, so you can clean without the hassle of a cord getting in the way.

The recommended handheld vacuum cleaner:

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium-Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium-Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum

• 4V Lithium-ion battery provides good run time (up to 17 minutes)
• Triple level filtration
• Easy to empty, large dirt cup (0.7 litre)
• 3 tools – motorized brush, crevice, and upholstery tools

Check out our buyer’s guide for handheld vacuum.

 

6. Central Vacuum

Central vacuum systems are very cool, but most houses are not equipped with them. Essentially, a central system is installed as a semi-permanent fixture in your home and operates via tubing installed in the walls.

The power unit and dirt collection container will typically be installed in an out of the way place like a basement or garage. Then, you simply carry the extension hose and cleaner head with you and attach them to the ports throughout your home. Of course, you will need to run downstairs (or wherever the dustbin is located) to empty the debris on a regular basis.

The recommended central vacuum system:

OVO Heavy Duty Powerful Central Vacuum System

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Lithium-Ion Cordless Hand Vacuum

• Powerful motor - 700 Air Watts with 30 ft Low-Voltage hose
• Hybrid filtration – use with or without filtration bags
• Heavy duty – can clean up to 9000 square feet areas
• Silent system - muffler and noise-blocking foam added in the motor
• LED indicator – inform you about the vacuum status
• Long lifetime and warranty - Soft-Start technology increases the motor lifetime; warranty up to 10 years

 

7. Multi-Purpose / Convertible

This type is becoming more popular, as it is an amalgam of the other types of cleaners. Some vacuums are designed as full uprights but also have a removable canister, for instance. Others are designed as upright systems (stick) but have a removable handheld vacuum incorporated into them. This can be very handy and cost-saving as well, as you only need to purchase one vacuum instead of several.

The recommended multi-purpose vacuum cleaner:

MOOSOO Cordless Vacuum 4 in 1 Stick & Handheld Vacuum, XL-618A

MOOSOO Cordless Vacuum 4 in 1 Stick & Handheld Vacuum, XL-618A

• Powerful suction cordless design - 2200 mAh large capacity Li-ion battery
• Multi-surfaces cleaner – suitable for hard floors and carpets
• Cyclone + HEPA filtration - excellent capturing the dust and pollens
• LED lights – clean every dark corner
• Convenient wall docking – let you store the vacuum and attachments while charging

Major Factor 2: The Vacuum Features

After you know the type of vacuum to choose from, the next thing is to check the individual vacuum features that include the following:

1. Tools

The variety of tools available for vacuums on the market today is truly staggering. Below are just a few you may find available for your model.

  • Pick-up attachments: These are exactly as they sound, larger attachments meant for picking up certain types of debris or that in hard-to-reach places. They may include an additional tube or hose, sometimes curved to get into tight places, different types of floor nozzles in different sizes, and some even come as a kit designed to detail your car or clean up your computer system.
  • Crevice Tools: Crevice tools are essentially flattened tubes designed to get into tight spaces. Some of them are short and work great for places like window sills and baseboards, and some are very long and flattened and are ideal for cleaning underneath or beside appliances.
  • Dust brushes: A variety of brush attachments are available for most modern vacuums. These work great for dusting any surface (instead of pushing it around with a traditional duster). They are also very handy for places that have just a bit of ground in the dirt like your upholstered furniture.
  • Floor tools: Many vacuums have additional floor attachments available. For instance, you can get an attachment specifically made for hardwood floors that won’t scratch them up. Various carpet heads are also available for everything from indoor/outdoor carpeting to deep pile shag and everything in between.
  • Upholstery tools: These are meant for exactly that – cleaning any upholstered surface. They come in a variety of designs from flatheads to those with stiff bristle brushes, and some are even specifically designed to clean items like draperies.
  • Pet tools: This is an entire category all on its own and can include motorized brushes that won’t get tangled with cat and dog hair or even brushes with rubber bristles that work great for scraping stuck-on pet hair from furniture.

2. Bags or Bagless

Many current vacuum cleaners on the market are bagless, but many still require bags to function, and there are merits to both types. For one, bagged vacuums are a much better option if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, as there is much less chance the sneeze-inducing particles will end up back in your air supply.

Instead, they are thrown away. Bagged models are also much more hygienic in general, as you don’t need to touch the mess to get rid of it. However, if you buy a bagged vac, you’ll need to keep buying bags.

Bagless cleaners on the other hand are cheaper to operate and require less hassle. They are also much better for the environment, as you just empty the dirt to another location instead of putting it in a bag and then doing so.

Another benefit is that you can always see how much dirt and dust is in the machine, so there’s no guessing and you know when it needs to be emptied. One downside to a bagless model is that the filters do tend to get dirty faster, so you’ll likely need to wash or replace them more often.

3. Brush Rolls

While you probably don’t want a motorized brush roll to clean hardwood floors as they tend to fling debris around, it’s essential if you have carpet in your home. A good brush roll agitates the carpet fibers to get out any buried or stuck in the dirt.

Brushes are made from different types of materials, which are important to know depending on the type of carpet you have, as you want to make sure the bristles won’t damage the carpet pile. Check out our editor compilation on powerhead canister vacuums.

4. Height

If you’re investing in an upright or stick vac, you may pay attention to how well it works but may not have thought about the height or general measurements of the model. Most vacuums are made for people of “average” height, but this is definitely something you’ll want to consider if you’re particularly short or tall.

Hunching over while vacuuming your home is sure to be uncomfortable as is holding your arms up too high for such an extended period of time.

5. Filters

Filters come in a variety of different types and can be disposable or washable. Different filters are designed to sift out different types of particles as well. For the average user, any vacuum filter will be fine, but if you have allergies or asthma, pay attention to the type of filter used in your vacuum, as you’ll want one specifically designed to trap small allergens, pollen, dust, and mold like HEPA filter.

As for throw-away or wash, that’s a personal preference. Like bags, some people prefer to just toss out the messy filter and replace it with a new one. Others don’t mind washing and drying it prior to putting it back in the machine. Many filters nowadays can even be put into the dishwasher, making this option even more attractive.

6. Edges

Did you know there are vacuums with features specifically designed to clean right up to the edge of your floor? If you’ve ever vacuumed and been left with an inch of dirt next to your baseboards, you’ll really appreciate this feature. If your machine doesn’t get up close to the edge, you can still use a tool or attachment to get to the area, but it would be nice if you don’t have to do so.

7. Headlights

This one is a bit obvious, but it’s amazing how many of today’s machines don’t have them. While headlights may seem unnecessary, they can come in very handy. Even if you’re vacuuming in broad daylight, there are likely to be dim corners where you can’t really see what’s in there, and having a good headlight or headlights on your vacuum may be just the key you need to get your home extra clean.

8. Power Cord

What is so special about a cord? Not much really, but there are some things to look for even in this department. While all cords are essentially the same, their features are not. For one, how long is it? No one wants to constantly be plugging and unplugging the vacuum as they clean.

Also, some new vacs have a retractable cord, and some need to be manually wound up. Having a retractable cord where you push a button and it gets sucked up into a space inside the machine is very convenient.

9. Quietness

A quiet vacuum is better than a loud machine. Here is some advice to assist you in buying silent vacuum cleaners:

  • Check the noise levels provided by the manufacturer. Look for appliances with levels less than 75 dB.
  • If a specific value has not been provided read the reviews provided by the users and check if it is quiet.
  • Find the model you are considering in a nearby home appliance store and test run it. See if it’s silent.
  • If you prioritize the quietness of a cleaner, then choose a cleaner with a smaller motor and fans. Larger the size of the moving part, the noisier the cleaner.
  • Canister vacuum cleaners are usually quieter than uprights. Choose canisters for quieter appliances.

10. Self-Propelled

Some models have a self-propelled feature, some do not and some don’t need one at all. However, if you have a particularly heavy vacuum cleaner, it’s practically essential to have this feature. Otherwise, you feel like you’re fighting the machine every step of the way.
If you’re looking at one with this benefit, look to see if it’s always on as well. Some machines only propel themselves on the carpet, leaving you heavily pushing and pulling on bare floors and putting undue stress on your body.

For more info on choosing a good vacuum cleaner, check out the following video:

Major Factor 3: The Vacuum Brands

There are as many vacuum brands in this industry like any other, but some definitely stand out as best sellers and leaders in the industry.

Bissell

Known for its lower-priced vacuum models, Bissell Inc. (also known as Bissell Homecare) is headquartered in Walker, Michigan, and holds a good market share in the industry. Bissell introduced their first carpet sweeper in 1876 and has since soared, making all varieties of vacuuming machines from the most basic to those that handle tough pet hair and even shampoo carpets.

Dirt Devil

Started in 1905, Dirt Devil is a long-standing provider of vacuums, with their first cyclonic system introduced in 1955. Most known for their handheld units, they’ve also ventured into the realm of stick and broom-type vacs.

Dyson

Selling machines in over 70 countries, the patented Dyson Ball has certainly made an impact. James Dyson invented the first wheelbarrow with the ball in 1974, but the first vacuum didn’t come onto the market until 1983. Since then, many improvements have been made, and Dyson has introduced their product into the realm of fans and fan/heater combo units.

Electrolux

The Electrolux company is one of the most long-standing in the industry, getting their start with vacuum cleaners in 1912. They are located in Stockholm, Sweden, and they actually sell their units under a variety of different brand names.

Eureka

Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1909, Eureka produces a wide variety of small appliances for the home. Today, Eureka vacuums are produced by AB Electrolux, their parent company, and they produce uprights, handheld, stick, and steam mops.

Hoover

The Hoover Company has been around since the early 20th century and is currently owned by Bain Capital. Over the years, they have produced dryers, washing machines, vacuum, and other floor care products.

Kirby

Most known for their home demonstrations, the Kirby Company is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and has dealers in 50 different countries. Jim Kirby designed their first model after World War I, but his name was not used until the 1930s. Since then, Kirby vacuums have become some of the most elite and are well known for their sturdy durability.

iRobot/Roomba

Long considered the leader in robotic vacuum cleaners, the Roomba company got its start in 2002. They have since produced several generations of their popular cleaners with a variety of impressive features. Their units know when to stop so they don’t fall downstairs, can detect objects so they don’t bump into them, and can be programmed to avoid any area of the home where you don’t want them to venture.

Miele

Some of the pricier models on the market come from the Miele line. Based in Gutersloh, Germany, this company founded in 1899 is still family run and owned. They started with a trub washing machine, butter churn, and cream separator and started in the vacuum cleaner market in 1927.

Neato

The Neato Robotics company is based in Newark, California, and began selling robotic vacuums in 2010. While they are a fairly new company to the market, they have certainly made an impact due to their innovative technology.

Unlike other robotic vacs, those from Neato are known for traveling in a straight pattern instead of randomly (or seemingly randomly) moving through a room. Some of the “neato” features include the ability of the unit to return to its charging station when the battery gets low, sensors that make it not fall downstairs, and the ability to continue cleaning in the exact spot where it quit if the battery ran out.

Oreck

Another long-standing brand, the Oreck Corporation has been manufacturing vacuums since 1963 and later started manufacturing air purifiers as well. They actually began selling by mail, and their machines are manufactured in China and assembled in the United States.

Shark

Shark vacuums are a brand from a company known as SharkNinja Operating LLC. The company originated in Europe, then moved to Canada, and eventually ended up in Newton, Massachusetts. They now produce a wide variety of small household appliances and cleaning solutions for the home.

Conclusion

Well, choosing a vacuum that is reliable and suit your cleaning needs is not an easy task as there are so many types and models available. However, if you go through this guide, you are far ahead and know many hidden tips to choose a great cleaner.

If you are still unsure which model to get, you can just choose the type of vacuum that you prefer and get the recommended model by our editor in this article. The model is one of the best sellers on Amazon and you can read thousands of real consumer reviews.

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